Monday’s Rune: A Memoirish Library Essay


Howdy! And Happy Monday, Y’all.

Since the American government still had an active conscription/draft system, I enlisted during my senior year in high school (1964). I eventually went to college after four years in the U.S. Air Force, which would later result in my first of three closely related “career” choices.

In May of ’66, I married Yolonda. More than half of our first two years together were spent as 20/21/22-year-olds living and working in Ankara, Turkey. I was not sent to Viet Nam. Happy Honeymoon.

I started college in September of 1968, as one of what would become known as Vietnam Era Veterans. I registered as a sophomore transfer from the University of Maryland, Overseas Division.

The Viet Nam War was raging and nearing its high-point years. LBJ was about finished. The Tet Offensive had hardened much more of U.S. public opinion against the war. While not ambivalent, I disagreed with both sides of the argument at that time. I was confused, as were many Americans. I had two short term goals: graduate and get a job. Yolonda was the Brazos County Attorney’s Secretary at the time. Every cop in the county knew her.

We lived in “on campus” student housing. Our “home” was a small one bedroom, one bath, unairconditioned apartment in southeast, central Texas. We eventually bought and installed a window a/c unit.

The campus library was my retreat, a place to read, study, and to people-watch. At the time, everyone exiting the building was forced to have their possessions searched to prevent theft.

One evening, Yolonda waited for me at that library while I was part of a psych department research study. I found her waiting in our car. She asked me if I would know if my penis was exposed out of my pants. She had been cock-flashed by a student employee. The perv got busted, and we’ve been sharing the experience for fifty-plus years. They are everywhere.

I’m writing this while sitting comfortably, sipping coffee, and eating a pastry from my public library’s coffee bar. These days book checkout is on the honor system, and nobody is searched.

I still like libraries. I am not a prodigious reader, although I read every day. Libraries are strangely comforting to me even though everyone has access to the facility, library card or not. Libraries are what they are and do what they do. The same is true of people.

My first library from childhood was in an old, mid-19th century, church building and still is. I also like old church architecture. Maybe there is a reason for my library/church juxtaposition of interest. I recall no pervs in the stacks from back then, but if those books could talk… (wait, we have talking books nowadays.)

Computer stations at the Central Branch of the Osterhout Free Library

It seems like it began for this boomer with the assassination of JFK. My first ten years after high school, the sixties, and early seventies, were a coming-of-age time for me and a tumultuous period in American History.

More than fifty years later, I still like to sit in libraries and write, read, search for books, people watch, and sip coffee. I may ponder what others say or claim. I think about how differently we all see the world and each other.

But at this point in my life, I really don’t give a shite what anyone thinks of me, except for Yolonda and our three middle-aged kids; less so, a few teeny-bopper or early 20s grandkids.

So far, I think I pass muster. Sort of.

Bill


Look both ways for what is right. Arguing does little good.
Mind the gaps lest they become crevasses of civil division.
Find your tribe and take a side. Keep trying to understand.
Support public libraries, not book bans or burns.

Sammi’s Weekender #275 (avian)

Click the graphic to fly to Sammi’s blog page to submit and to read other’s prose or poems.

Got My Six

His name was Jay.
We called him Jay Bird
due to his avian-like
looks and behavior.
Callsigns were
seldom complimentary,
like Maverick or Viper.
Jay Bird was my friend.


Look both ways in life but memories are treasures of the mind.
And mind the ever-present gaps as you connect the dots and wonder why.

Friday Fictioneers for September 2nd, 2022

To slip nicely from the end of sweet summer sweat and August’s heat into September’s pre-Labor Day weekend; her magnificence, Rochelle of the purple addiction, and Wednesday Wonder Woman, has cast a David Stewart late night photo for all to see and to be mused into a fictional tryst for Friday.

If you wish to try a fib, a lie, or you have a story to aspire, click on David’s photo, and you shall flash over to the blog of our magical mistress to learn all her secrets.

PHOTO PROMPT © David Stewart

My tale grew from an effect echoed by a favorite musical afterglow. Fans of the band or the song may glean the tune from the nature of some lines I borrowed.


Genre: Musical Fan Fiction
Title: Programed to Read
Word Count: 100

***

Shimmering lights lit the shed.

Don pointed. “There’s the doorway. Step inside. Say, ‘1969.’ Another door opens to a colitas casino.”

I said, “Gambling’s legal. Why the drama?”

“Libraries are underground since books and music became illegal. Dancing to remember is forbidden.”

I did as he said. I heard happy voices. Such a lovely place with music and books. I asked the librarian, “Could I check anything out?”

She lit a candle and replied, “Such a lovely face. Relax. We are all prisoners here programmed to read. You may check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

***


Look both ways.
Saying it will not happen again doesn’t mean it won’t.
Mind the gaps for fears in the middle of the night, just to hear them say,
“Bring your alibis.”

Click on the Eagles “Hotel California” poster to zip to links for more great flash/micro fiction stories.

***

This is not the Eagles, but cred to their song by buskers Sherlock and Rodrigues. My deep apologies if this YouTube fails you, I don’t know how to tell if it’s banned in Boston, London, or Montreal.

 

Friday Fictioneers for August 26th 2022

Our unrivaled and swimmingly marvelous maven and Friday Fictioneering mistress, Rochelle, has paired up with Brenda Cox to serve up a stinging photo with food, working women, and a mad mugging man to inspire us to fictionalize 100-word stories mused from the minds and memories of twisted fibbers.

If you want to get jiggy with the ways and where-how’s of this Micro-, flash-fictioning adventure, click on Brenda’s photo for a sit down at Rochelle’s blog to check the menu for rules regarding ingredients.

PHOTO PROMPT © Brenda Cox

 


Genre: Derivative Fiction
Title: Barbecue Stir-Fry with Tomatoes
Word Count: 100

***

Frank sat; arms crossed. “These are all women. Why’d you bring me here?”

Ruth smiled at Idgie. “They’ve excellent fried green tomatoes. The stir-fry is to die for.”

Frank mumbled, “These look like illegals. I’m calling Sheriff Smoot.”

Ruth nodded to Idgie and touched her neck.

Idgie waved her arm.

Frank felt a sharp sting. “Damnit! A bee. Give me Benadryl.”

Ruth handed him the bottle. Frank drank then collapsed. A small crowd gathered, then Frank was gone.

Idgie hugged Ruth. “Come back tomorrow, Love. We have fresh meat to barbeque.”

Ruth touched Idgie’s cheek. “I’ll always love you, Bee-charmer.”

***


Look both ways when seeking friendship and love.
Mind the gaps and take karma into account when life hands you Towanda’s rules.

This story is derived from, and inspired by, the book and movie, Fried Green Tomatoes.

Click on Idgie and Ruth at the Whistle Stop Café to truck on over and read other deep-fried stories.

If you’re unfamiliar with the 1991 movie, here’s a trailer to tempt you.

Monday’s Rune: Drove my Chevy to the levee…


But Buyer Be

My family didn’t own one—so,

I knew nothing of
automobiles back then
except about how to drive
(not well) and add gas—

My first (legal) car
was twenty bucks—
I got it for fifteen;
Mom said,
(Dad didn’t know, yet—
he called cars “motors”
and expensive things “dear”)
but she said, “Oh, dear,
I wonder
what’s wrong with it.”

I was about to learn so much
about oil,
rings, pistons, and
timing points, and why not
grab hold of a bare spark plug wire
on a running straight six,
and about positive and negative.

Guys at school, the ones taking
auto mechanics shop classes,
(learning something useful)
were not the ones to ask
even though I took
English III (again) with them.
(I’m still grateful for how
smart they made me look
and feel—but
another story there.)

Because
while those know-it-alls
claimed auto knowledge,
helpful they were not,
and I’d already bought
my old green Chevrolet
capable of burning
a quart of oil
per city block or
country mile—either way,
lesson learned late.
Learn first, then buy
(now I tell me).

And used car salesmen—
that lesson took a lot longer.

Buyer
beware. Be aware.


Look both ways as time keeps on slippin’ into the future.
Mind the gaps, feed the babies, shoe the children, house the people livin’ in the street.

Looks better than mine did. Click on pic to hear Don Mclean’s song, “American Pie.”

Sammi’s Weekender #273 (alcazar)

A 76-word, first-word, acrostic poem, using alcazar, meaning a Spanish fortress, palace, or castle.
I did not use the prompt word as a theme.

Click this graphic to read more writings of alcazar,

Wind, Rain, and Life

All I ask are a few good poems and stories and to have

Lived and loved my seventy-six years as me. My

Children and my children’s children brought me to heavenly happiness

As rain brought new life later claimed by the dry range and the breezes of soft

Zephyrus gently passing us by, like time-forgotten memories

Around our lives with now-shortened horizons pointing to sunsets

Restoring my faith in the discovered purposes of life and humanity.


Look both ways to protect your citadel from plunder and attack.
Mind the gaps of your castle walls which may be vulnerable to the darkness of passing time.

Monday’s Rune: Working for Money


At the car wash
busy with trucks and SUVs
but few cars.

I spy a young HR lady
as she
explains personnel things
to a few male employees
who look confidently confused.

They pay “up to” twelve dollars per hour
there—
so says the help wanted sign.

It’s a hundred degrees Fahrenheit
again today, outside, at the car wash
for not enough dinero to live on.

A customer—tall skinny guy wearing
starched, ironed Wranglers with
a big wide belt holding up a bigger
shiny rodeo belt buckle, in
black cowboy boots
boasting bright diamond earrings,
under a big black felt
unairconditioned cowboy hat with

a long wallet jutting up from
his tight right back pocket
and chained to his belt,
and his big-ass cell phone in the other,
all in his stiff, creased, ironed
cowboy blue jeans while

Mansplaining to his nicely wigged

lady friend—he even told me when
my car was ready (it wasn’t)—she nodded and smiled—
people waiting for their clean and polished rides—

one rest (wash) room for all. With
a mercifully short waiting line,

I see no ‘young’ customers, but
one old man wore his ballooning
starched & ironed loud pink, long-sleeved shirt with
pearl buttons in this noisy, busy business

somewhere in the middle of Texas
where dressing to subculture
ignores realities like sun and heat

except for the guys making top
dollar, one every five minutes,
at the car wash. Plus, a tip from me
in my worn Phish tee and shorts, ball cap
and old gym shoes. My subculture.
At the car wash.


Look both ways at the car wash.
Take notes on the sights and write ‘em up: prose or poetry to get you through the day.
Mind the gaps unless you pay the upcharge for a greater job, done by hand, details.

 

If you’re unfamiliar with the mid-seventies song and movie, here is a youtube trailer version.

Sammi’s Weekender #267 (return)

Click on the graphic to link over to Sammi’s blog page and links to more 31-word wonders.

 


 

Time would stop,
no mellowness
or ripening dead,
no ageing,
green callowness everywhere
on everyone;
sameness would be
one forever season
as it was for me
to never return home again.

 


 

Look both ways but remember that life is lived in the eternal present,
planned forward, understood backward,
and we each have a story.
Mind the gaps, and keep a nickel for the exit fee, or you may never return.

***

Sammi’s weekender (as I call it) is a word use and number/count challenge. But I am often called to music and songs by prompts, as in this case. The chorus from the song M.T.A. (or Charlie on the MTA) written in 1949, and recorded and made famous by The Kingston Trio in 1959, (one of my favorites) while unrelated to my poem, is still fun for me. If you buy a ticket today for the (now MTBA) Boston subway (if you go, ride it), it is called a CharlieCard because of this song.

“But did he ever return?
No he never returned
And his fate is still unlearned (poor old Charlie)
He may ride forever
‘Neath the streets of Boston
He’s the man, who never returned”

(33 words, but not my entry)

Monday’s Rune: Independence Day


On This July Day

Born a year after
the last big war,
for decades,
I said the pledge
with hand over heart and sang
patriotic songs.

I took cover under my desk,
was a Boy Scout of America
who could properly fold the flag
and post the colors at twelve.
I prayed every day. I trusted God.

I played at war and we
always won. We were
always right, better,
and stronger. Powerful,
but merciful.

I enlisted before
graduating from high school,
I saluted. I knew, followed,
and respected flag etiquette —
still do. I swore
to protect our Constitution.

I spent two careers in the service of
(willing to, but not wanting to,
die for) my country—my people.
I thought I taught my children well.

Now,
examining my conscience
I find I am a man of a different mind,
No longer as certain of our goodness,
of our unitedness, of our honest
democracy. I feel fooled and
deceived. I feel hated by my own.

It’s not the date, it is the old spirit
where I question my allegiance,
to what or whom?

It is still in me. I still care.
But nothing is the same.
Confidence is dead. For our
freedoms, I worry with dread.

I feel conflicted. Lost.
Our enemies are close.
How patriotic am I?
I should be. I want to be.

In truth, I feel this way
not because I no longer love
my country,
but because I still do.

Happy 4th, anyway.
Be careful out there.


Look both way as we try to understand.
But deeply mind the gaps.
Even the Nazis thought they were right.

According to THIS Gallup poll, it’s a thing.

 

Sammi’s Weekender #266 (flippant)

Click to flip over to Sammi’s blog and more 74-word wonders.

Was it something I said?

Many things I’ve done and not done
which brought me much self-inflicted grief;
like transfers or removals from jobs,

I’ve sat smiling at wrong times,
adulted too young, or the drink I tasted
when I got more than a little bit wasted,
‘twas most often my spectacular speech
that others appreciated the least.

I’m gifted this flippantly waggish tongue
emitting my intently presented voice
speaking a cutting language, exposing
my cantankerously lighthearted snarkastic choice.


Look both ways when words fly like the breath of buzzards.
Mind the gaps and if your gunna do it, go all the way.